A couple years back, I used to run a series on the blog called, In the Spotlight. It would interview and showcase parents who lived a life in the spotlight and how they balanced family, work and life. A few examples of past spotlights are ET Canada Host Cheryl Hickey, former Bachelorette Trista Sutter, TSN Sportscaster Nabil Karim and Radio Host Nira Arora.
As I’ve slowly been shifting my blog content to include more wellness, I wanted to bring back this series, also with a shift. Now, instead of parents sharing how they find balance, I’ll be showcasing, awesome people that are inspiring, making an impact and difference in the sphere of wellness, health and fitness. And to kick things off, today we are In the Spotlight with Reena Parekh.
I started following Reena on Instagram a while back and she has always been so inspiring and authentic. When I decided to go back to school to become a personal trainer, she was very supportive as she’s been through the same thing herself. When you’re done reading this interview, you’re going to be a big fan of Reena Parekh too.
In the Spotlight with Reena Parekh
Reena Parekh is a Women’s Fitness Coach in Toronto, Ontario specializing in strength training and pre and post-natal fitness. Her mission is to help her clients rediscover their strength and confidence through physical fitness. Reena is 35 and a mother of two children, 4 years old and a 4 months old! She lives with her family in Toronto and is married to Ash a Chef, and entrepreneur owner of East of York Gourmet Food Co.
1. Tell us a little about your journey from working in the corporate
world to changing direction to fitness. Why did you decide to make the
change and how has the last 6 years been?
After experiencing “burn out” by the age of 30, working full time in the event management industry, I quit my “dream job” after just 8 weeks. I realized during this time, what I didn’t want: to be working 80 hours a week for someone else, not having the time and energy to spend with my husband. At that time I hadn’t had kids yet, but I knew I wanted a family. The lifestyle I had wasn’t realistic if I wanted to have a family, too. Later that year, I took a more stable, secure and less demanding position. Less than a year later, I was pregnant with my first child. When I went on maternity leave, the company was folding and I was let go from my position. I was at a crossroads and it was time to make a decision: Do I continue being the primary caregiver to my son, or do I seek out another job in corporate?
We decided that I would stay home for the time being. At this time I was also teaching group fitness classes at a box gym, something I had been doing for about 5 years. So fitness wasn’t a far stretch for me, in fact it played a really important role in my life. I spent a lot of time working out at home and posting my workouts. Soon, I met other parents who were in a similar boat and that’s when I decided to start my personal training business. It started with one client and two in-home sessions per week with her.
Over the past 5 years I’ve grown my business, from doing in-home sessions to now working in a private studio in East Toronto with a solid client base. I’m so excited to grow it over the next 3-5 years and bring a bigger vision to life.
2. Why do you workout?
I’ve always been active. I started going to the gym at the local YMCA at the age of 16. I danced professionally well into my 20s. And got recruited as a group fitness instructor because I was consistently at the gym. For me, working out is ME Time. This is even more important to me now that I am a mother of two. For me, it provides mental clarity, relieves stress, increases my energy and makes me feel strong!
3. Why do you think it’s important for others to workout, exercise or get in some movement each day?
Being active, means taking care of our physical and mental health. It’s important to remain active because our daily lives require us to do so many things, but also because we don’t want to live on the sidelines or wish we could do things. Living life means being active in some capacity and if we don’t make an effort to do that we can lose that ability.
4. Moms have a lot going on as you would know, what are some of your
tips for fitting in exercise amid the chaos?
Make it a non-negotiable. My gym time (or even home workout time) is my time. Dishes, laundry, errands – it can all wait. We all have 20 minutes! It’s about making and keeping it as a priority, as well as sharing the importance of it with our family.
5. If someone goes to your Instagram feed, there are no before & after,
transformation photos. Why is that?
AH you noticed! A few reasons….1. I don’t publicly share clients “progress” photos for privacy reasons 2. Showing a before photo implies there was something wrong to begin with. There is nothing “wrong” with my clients when they approach me for training. They have new goals and want to change their lifestyle, that’s why they come see me! 3. Progress isn’t just physical. It’s about how you feel, how you wake up in the morning and how you walk with a new found confidence.
6. What are your thoughts on diets like keto, paleo or even diets in
I am not a fan of diet culture. Things like KETO or Paleo can be taken on as a lifestyle change (vs. dieting / restrictions) and work for some people. At the end of the day when you compare food trends, they all have similarities: eat more whole foods, reduce or eliminate processed foods!
I live by the 80/20 “rule’ – I fill most of my days with whole foods including lean proteins, a variety of fruits and vegetables. I also enjoy a cupcake or a glass of wine because I enjoy those things and don’t need to feel guilty for it. Having a positive relationship with food is so important.
Workout gear: Reebok!
Nutritious recipe: Baked salmon or grilled chicken, with loads of greens and a nice light dressing
3 Exercises: Deadlifts, Sprints, Pull ups
Self-care: Lifting heavy things. Or a day at the spa.
One thing you can’t live without: Espresso.
Fitness accounts to follow:
After reading this In the Spotlight with Reena Parekh, I’m sure you’re as big a fan of her as I am. I would definitely recommend following her on Instagram where she shares workouts, food, life as a mom and all the ups and downs that go along with all of that.